Goin' to the Apple
W hen I first visited New York City, I was a fresh-scrubbed, twenty-one-year-old junior in college, and just off the turnip truck--er, make that train--from Arkansas. The city seemed to me dirty, noisy, rude, and intimidating--just as I had anticipated, perhaps even hoped--and thus my curiosity was thoroughly satisfied. I would not return to New York until twelve years later.
The anticipation of my return trip, made in a mandatory fashion out of the need to fill the pages of this magazine, provoked anxiety and dread. I had to venture back to the "big city" to make my way through hoards of strangers to get to a few of the more than thirteen hundred Kenyon alumni who live in New York.
On this most recent trip, I found a city transformed. I'm not sure if my new perception of the Big Apple can be attributed to the results of Mayor Giuliani's civility campaign or to the fact that many of the wide-eyed assumptions I possessed at the age of twenty-one are now long gone. It's probably a mixture of the two.
I can say with certainty that Times Square looks a lot more like Disney World (and a lot less like Sodom) now than it did a decade ago--and the cab drivers, in the main, are much more fluent in English.
New York cannot be reduced to a study in anthropology within the pages of the Bulletin. But one thing is certain: the "Capital of the World"--like any great city--is the sum of its parts, and large numbers of talented Kenyon graduates are a big part of that sum. In fact, more of the College's alumni live in New York than any other city. Washington, D.C., which ranks second to New York, is home to roughly half as many graduates.
My thoughts on New York are hardly necessary, since in this issue you can find the witty and telling piece "If I can make it there, I can make it back" by Chris Hammett '88. In his essay, he tells what life in New York is like for him and compares it with its West Coast counterpart (and his former home), Los Angeles, California.
The alumni profiled within this issue offer only a small sampling of the Kenyon success stories that can be found in Manhattan and the outer boroughs. From the slow rise to Broadway and film recognition by actor Allison Janney '82, to the hopes and aspirations of young filmmaker Steven Cawman '93, this Bulletin tells the stories of what it's like to "make it" in New York. While the names Christopher Bartlett '81 and Thomas Grimes '82 don't yet command the same kind of household recognition as those of photographers Annie Leibovitz and Herb Ritts, their story is literally the stuff that dreams are made of. They have flourished for more than seventeen years as photographers in a changing and fickle industry. The reporting career of Matthew Winkler '77 had humble beginnings at the Mount Vernon News, but it took off in style with a ten-year stint at the Wall Street Journal, followed by what many perceived as a gutsy move to the then-fledgling, now-thriving Bloomberg News.
In addition to playing key roles in the arts and media, the College's graduates are well represented in the city's business and science precincts. While Martin McKerrow '64 is a raging success on Wall Street, you may wonder if he hasn't missed his calling as he expresses his loves for the arts, the sea, and the mysteries of the universe. The road taken to the field of psychiatry by Ann Sellew '72 is detailed in a profile that reveals her struggle with dyslexia as a student at Kenyon and then as a student of medicine. And Stuart Siegel '72 of Sotheby's tells the story of his pathway into a career in real estate and how he's learned to love the source of his livelihood.
These people are just a few of those who help form the extensive network of the College's alumni in New York. They are friends, neighbors, and colleagues in business and the professions. As Kenyon graduates, they represent a family within a family. To paraphrase Hammett, these are people who have (figuratively speaking, at least in most instances) stood in the middle of Times Square, shaken their fists, and declared that they would make it. And they have.
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